The First Experience

The First Experience:  Avoiding Assumptions

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Learning from the First Experience

In the video, Janalee shared that healthcare workers made assumptions about her husband’s communication needs and shared this important advice:


People who have a hearing loss are diverse and may have different needs for accommodations. Factors to consider include:

  • DIVERSITY OF IDENTITIES: people may use a variety of terms to identify themselves. The following list explains a few of the more common ones.
  1. Deaf: Having a hearing loss of such severity that communication and learning is primarily by visual methods i.e. manual communication such as American Sign Language (ASL), writing, speechreading, and gestures.
  2. DeafBlind: Having a dual sensory loss that interferes with the ability of a person to function effectively in the “hearing-sighted” world. This term does not necessarily mean total lack of hearing and vision.
  3. Hard of hearing: Having some degree of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound. People who are hard of hearing may benefit from the use of hearing aids or other assistive listening devices. They depend primarily upon spoken English in communicating with others.
  4. Late deafened: Having a severe to profound hearing loss, which occurred after the development of speech and language. People who are late deafened can benefit from the use of visual display technology, but usually very little from hearing aids or listening technology.
    • Outdated terms: these are considered offensive by many people in the Deaf community.
      • Deaf-mute
      • Hearing-impaired
  • WAYS OF COMMUNICATING: People use a variety of methods to communicate. Some examples include:
    • Interpreters
      1. English ~ American Sign Language interpreters
        1. Certified Deaf Interpreters
          Holders of this certification are deaf or hard of hearing and have demonstrated knowledge and understanding of interpreting,  deafness, the Deaf community, and Deaf culture. Holders have specialized training and/or experience in the use of gesture, mime, props, drawings and other tools to enhance communication. Holders possess native or near-native fluency in American Sign Language and are recommended for a broad range of assignments where an interpreter who is deaf or hard-of-hearing would be beneficial. This credential has been available since 1998.
      2. Oral Interpreters
      3. Tactile or Close-Vision Interpreters
      4. Video Remote Interpreters (VRI)
    • Assistive Listening Devices
    • Lipreading/Speechreading
    • Written notes (Tips on Written Communication)
      • Can be done on a computer or paper
    • Captioning of Educational Videos or Presentations
    • Deaf Community Health Workers

In the following experiences, we will look more closely at what these different accommodations are and what they might mean for providing patient-centered care.

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Transcript of The First Experience Video

One experience that comes to my mind is when my husband needed to be seen in the emergency room. And we were sitting in the waiting room and we noticed other patients coming in after he had initially registered. And then, we noticed several patients going back and being treated and we were wondering after a couple of hours, we thought maybe they had forgotten about my husband, Bill.

So, I went up to talk to the nurse and I asked her: “We’re just curious. How is it that we’re still waiting?”

And she said, “Oh, your husband needs an interpreter.”

And I said, “Oh, how did you know that?”

And she said, “Well, on our computer screen it shows that he’s deaf.”

And I said, “How is it that you know that he needs to have an interpreter?”

And she said, “Well, don’t all deaf people need interpreters?”

And I said, “Well, I happen to be deaf, too, but I’m able to lipread you. Has anybody thought about asking Bill if he would like any communication assistance for his appointment?”

And right then and there, they shipped him into the room quickly and he was able to get the care he needed.

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